Hike Report: Indian Creek Trail in Shell Ridge Open Space

The East Bay has a fantastic assortment of hiking and walking trails. Open spaces abound, and there are so many options for a great hike. 

One I tried recently is the Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek. Shell Ridge is huge and has many different trails, but I took the Indian Creek trail (which includes the Jeep Trail and parts of the Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail.)

Here’s a video from my hike.

General Conditions

The Indian Creek trail is relatively exposed, but it’s a beautiful hike. I parked near Indian Valley Elementary School to access the nearby Jeep Trail trailhead. It’s a dirt trail, but it’s fairly wide and well-maintained. 

There are parts where you could take a rugged trail stroller, but this would be a challenging one for a stroller that’s not designed to go off-road or for a wheelchair. 

The trail meanders uphill, with side trails extending down to a creek bed. The main trail is rugged but doable.

The side trails are much narrower and more winding and follow small ravines beside creek beds. They can get muddy if it’s just rained, and are too narrow for a stroller. 

Side trails to the creek bed

Are Dogs Allowed on Indian Creek Trail?

Many people bring their dogs along on the trail, and I saw at least 10 dog walkers on my hike. That’s one of the big benefits of open spaces in the East Bay. Lots of people love to bring their four-legged friends along for a walk. 

People do seem to let the dogs off leash on this trail. Most of the dogs are well-behaved and under voice control.

My Hike

I did about a 2 mile out and back hike on the Jeep Trail and Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail, following the main trail and then heading down onto one of the side trails to the creek bed. 

Because there’s not too much elevation gain on the trail, it’s a good hike for novices. Again, the trail is pretty exposed, so you’ll want to bring sunblock and plenty of water. 

Keep in mind that, as with most of the open space hikes in the area, there aren’t any facilities on this trail. You won’t find restrooms, water stations, or much else. 

On very hot days, I wouldn’t do this hike. Likewise, I wouldn’t do it in the rain, since even the main trail is a dirt trail, and there could easily be slippery patches. And I would stay home for a couple of days after a big storm. 


In good weather, though, this is a beautiful hike and it’s perfect for somebody who wants to enjoy the beautiful views or for novices who are just getting started hiking in open spaces. 

Adventurous parents with an off-road stroller could do this one too, but make sure to stick to the main trail. I wouldn’t attempt to head down to the creek bed with a stroller, but your dog would love the secluded and more-shaded portions of the trail.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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